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How A Security Consultant Got Inside Animal Research Labs

A security consultant tries to get inside animal research labs - and does.
A new article authored by a research lab security consultant comes to one conclusion: it is not hard to get inside an animal research lab.

View the full article here.

The article is published in ALN, a trade publication for animal research labs. The magazine focuses solely on animal research, with articles on everything from new cage cleaning devices to threats from the animal rights movement.
The author carried out a security audit at several unnamed research labs, in which he attempted to gain access. He then reported some of his findings in the ALN article, titled "Determined Aggressor Assessment".

Here are a few findings from the author's attempts to access animal research labs:

Using a fake ID

"Using an Avery label, a hotel's color printer, and Microsoft Word, I was able to make a realistic photo ID badge within one hour, which allowed me to gain access to the facility.... I was never challenged at any time".

Using the fake ID, the author was able to gain access to "research areas" (which I would read to mean: where the animal were held). This is something most activists consider totally outside their reach. And it was achieved by someone whose only motivation was the check he would receive at the end of the security audit.

The article verifies from the researcher's side a positive side-effect of sophisticated electronic security: The more faith placed on high tech security, the more a lab's guard lowers, and the more effective low-tech methods become.

Going through the front door

In this instance, the author did nighttime surveillance at an animal lab with "sophisticated camera systems" & "access control readers". To access the lab, he simply tailed an employee through the front door, directly in view of a security guard. At this lab, the author found:

" over-reliance on security technology. This reliance had diminished the security program in its entirety."

I wrote about this effect in an article titled "From Obstacle to Opportunity", about the hidden opportunity gains from increased security and surveillance. For example, why it could be easier to raid a fur farm with electronic security than one without.

The author further emphasizes this point in the section on ID cards:

"The purpose of an identification card is that it validates your identity. However, from a security perspective, it additonally validates, supports, and authorizes access to [an animal research lab]."

The hidden opportunities of increased security

To repeat my point from "From Obstacle to Opportunity":

"The purchaser of high-tech security pays for the luxury of inattention. With this false sense of comfort, and blind faith in technology, she who circumvents an alarm finds herself in a much easier position to do a complete job once inside".
Complete security is impossible

To quote the author:

"There are a multitude of ways to access a facility, and no organization will stop a determined aggressor". (emphasis mine)

I've heard activists lament over a bygone era when the A.L.F. could access labs easily. Yet it seems only activists themselves believe this access has become impossible. As this article shows, the industry itself knows this isn't true.

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